Korine and Mitchell Arseneau of Hampton took her parents Kathy and Paul sailing on a sunny, breezy afternoon along the York River. They used their extensive sailing skills to race downriver on five tacks at 10-15 degrees heeling before running with wind upriver.
Paul spent 25 years in the US Navy. “I was only five years at sea total because I served in the Seabees construction operation.” He was well aware that the Seabees started out at nearby Camp Peary and are celebrating their 75th year.
“We live in Minnesota and I’ve sailed on Lake Superior and Lake Michigan,” Paul said. “A competitive sail would start out on a Friday night as we crossed the lake or went north to Mackinac Island. We’d finish late Saturday afternoon and try to come back Sunday, in time for work.
“I’ve sailed in Chesapeake Bay as well. We set out one night from Annapolis and got all the way south to take the turn into St. Mary’s. Almost hit a freighter too. On that trip, we had safety lights on our vests so that if we fell in the water the light would trigger automatically.
“I never got to race in the Chicago-to-Mackinac, but I’ve been in some good ones. These are 40 to 45 feet boats with crew. We raced across Lake Michigan once and beat the leader right at the finish line.” The look on his face showed he remembered it like was yesterday.
Kathy said, “Paul served in the Navy at Annapolis where he taught at the Naval Academy. He also worked at the Pentagon in Washington. We’ve been stationed at San Diego, Norfolk and all over, always near sailboats.”
The sun made the sailing warm but the water made it chilly, so we all had sweaters on except Paul, who only wore a T-shirt. I asked him what constituted truly cold in Minnesota. He didn’t hesitate. “Zero degrees. Anything lower than that is brutal, especially when the wind gets up to 15 miles an hour.”
Korine works for Langley Federal Credit Union, which she said ranks in the top 100 nationwide among credit unions. Mitch is a financial analyst in the Air Force, stationed currently at Langley AFB. We got to talking about Air Force One doing touch-and-goes at Langley. He said, “Last week we had a combined air show with French and American jets participating. They flew all over Tidewater.” We saw it at the time, complete with red, white and blue contrails.
Let’s Go Sail, but Not in Minnesota
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